OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The House of Representatives, led by Democrat Speaker and California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, has passed a ban on assault weapons, and they were assisted by two Republicans.
The ban was approved narrowly in the House with a vote of 217 – 213 and now heads to the Senate where it is not likely to break the filibuster.
Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Chris Jacobs of New York were the only two Republicans to vote in favor of the legislation, Fox News reported.
There were several Democrats who voted against it, including Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas; Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon and Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin.
President Joe Biden celebrated the passing of the legislation in the House and called on the Senate to pass it, even as he knows that it is highly unlikely to happen.
“When I signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act – the first significant piece of gun safety legislation in nearly 30 years – I said that there was still work to be done to keep our communities safe and keep dangerous firearms out of dangerous hands. When guns are the number one killer of children in America, when more children die from guns than active-duty police and active-duty military combined, we have to act. Today, House Democrats acted by unifying to pass an assault weapons ban to keep weapons of war off our streets, save lives in this country, and reduce crime in our communities,” the president said.
“The majority of the American people agree with this common sense action. The Senate should move quickly to get this bill to my desk, and I will not stop fighting until it does. There can be no greater responsibility than to do all we can to ensure the safety of our families, our children, our homes, our communities, and our nation,” he said.
Speaker of the House and California Rep. Nancy Pelosi spoke in favor of the legislation.
“Each year, more children die from gun violence than any other cause. Cancer, auto accidents, any other cause. Our nation has watched in unspeakable horror as assault weapons have been used in massacre after massacre in communities across the country. And disturbingly, so many of these mass shootings have targeted our precious children. In their schools, at the movies, at the malls and throughout our communities. That is why I rise today in strong support in reinstating the assault weapons ban, a long-overdue step to get deadly weapons off our streets,” the Speaker began.
“Make no mistake, we know that an assault weapon ban can work because it has worked before. For ten years, from 1994 to 2004, our families were protected by a strong assault weapon ban, strongly championed in the Senate by then-Senator, now President Joe Biden. Chuck Schumer led the way over here, Dianne Feinstein in the Senate. I was a relatively new Member of Congress who was whipping for this legislation. It made us all very, very proud. More importantly, it saved many lives,” the Speaker said.
“During that time, we witnessed gun crime with assault weapons drop by up to 40 percent. Let me repeat. Gun violence with assault weapons reduced by 40 percent. Meanwhile, since the ban expired, the number of mass shooting deaths has grown by nearly 500 percent,” she said before showing advertisements for so called assault weapons.
Some moderate Democrats wanted a vote on a police funding bill, which was intended to be combined with this bill but had to be separated after progressives and some members of the Congressional Black Caucus were not satisfied with the police legislation, CNN reported.
“This was supposed to happen in several weeks to give time for us to negotiate stronger police accountability measures,” one staffer for a Congressional Black Caucus member said to CNN. “Then they sprung this deal on us in the dead of night without any hearings, committee or time for members to read the text much less debate.”